Our gerbils have a pretty small carbon footprint thanks to the secondhand aquarium that they occupy (saved from being thrown away at the curb by a neighbour some years ago) and the recycled paper and cardboard that gives them clean bedding and things to chew. Gosh do gerbils love to chew things. And explore, endlessly. They are novelty freaks.
I must admit, I have totally fallen in love with these little creatures (two brothers, the ideal combination if you’re going to have gerbils for pets) in the time that we’ve had them. And my favourite time is always when we’ve just changed their bedding and added new boxes for them to investigate. The excitement in their little hearts is so palpable.
Cleaning out the cage is a matter of clearing out a mass of shredded paper and cardboard, taking it to the compost, wiping down the interior with vinegar and water, and filling up the space with paper and card items from our black box. Couldn’t be easier. I’m not sure whose glee is greater, mine, theirs or the eight-year old who gets to run the shredder for the bedding. It’s a win-win-win.
This old potato planter was found, sitting pretty just like this, on our land when we first purchased it. And there it sat for more than full year until we traded the hydraulics on it for a metal barrel with a neighbour.
I wrote in a previous post about how my husband decided to build a double-layered burn barrel based on the wood gasifier concept, and this led us to taking the barrel from the potato planter for this project. Our youngest got in on the action when we needed help with drilling holes in the base of the inner barrel.
The reason for the burn barrel’s existence is that we have huge amounts of brush to clear from around our apple trees and while some of it will compost quietly, the really woody stuff is best dealt with by burning it as cleanly as possible. It is also rather nice to have the occasional bonfire on a clear evening. Last evening is when I got this picture.
The only new purchases required for this project were a large drillbit and a metal cutting wheel for our grinder; two new tools that will be useful for future projects. All materials for the burn barrel itself were found and recycled, which we’re trying to do here as much as possible.
As a by-product we have enough charcoal being produced to keep us going in the warmer months for barbecuing; we should never need to actually buy charcoal!
Oh, and the round base with the windmill graphic that was cut out to make an open barrel end will become a nice piece of “artwork” which we’ll hang in our garage which we treat as a barn.
This isn’t really part 4 in this series, but a quick update until I have the time to prepare a full report on the next phase building our treefort out of mostly recycled materials. The weather is getting much colder, but we really pushed things along recently. Here is a quick snapshot of the treehouse as of last weekend.
I regularly read The Guardian (online) in the UK, as I find cbc.ca to be crap. I hate to say that, as I’ve always loved CBC radio, but it’s true. There is nothing there and no life to it.
Anyway the Guardian is always full of interesting and lengthy essays on topical subjects, and I like this one which asks: The end of consumerism? What it’s on about is whether swapping, sharing, bartering, trading, renting, etc., is a workable path to get away from our culture’s obsession with acquiring things and being wasteful of resources. In short, I think it’s obviously the way of the future, but the article is kind of a fun meditation on the topic.
I’ve been meaning to write about our antique coffee grinder for months, and have been spurred on by Manual Coffee over at The Clean Bin Project. I’m still impressed with the idea of using a mortar and pestle to grind up coffee beans!
We’ve been using an 1890s-ish manual coffee grinder for years, and it works as well as the day it was first made (I’m guessing); the “technology” is so simple, there isn’t much to go wrong.
My morning starts here, with our coffee and tea shelf. This is one of my absolute most favourite things about our new house. I've never had a new kitchen before and have always wanted an open shelf with these things at eye level, at hand. The electric kettle sits on the counter below and cups hang from hooks just under the shelf. Previously everything was stuffed into a cupboard and the grinder sat by its lonesome on a tiny corner shelf across the room.
It's definitely more of a commitment to grind beans this way - it takes close to two minutes to grind beans for a presspot, though I honestly haven't timed myself. I look out the window or chat to whoever is in the room - it's slow food, and it's pleasant.
For a long time we used Bridgehead beans at home, but switched over to Ideal Coffee when The Piggy Market came along to our old Ottawa neighbourhood. Prince of Darkness, The Red Sea and the Light Organic Blend are favourites. Recently we've been trying out The Piggy Blend from the Happy Goat Coffee Company, another great new Ottawa business.
Rarely does a grinding session pass without me thinking, at least fleetingly, of The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. One long winter on the American prairies her family spent their days grinding wheat in a coffee grinder so that they’d have enough flour to make two loaves of bread each day. That was all they had to eat, and everyone in the family of six took their turns throughout the day. That is food for thought.